Heard about Pai during my visit in Chiang Mai in 2012 but got no chance to go that time, hence this visit in June 2014, I included Pai in my itinerary.
Arrival in Pai…….
I reached Pai early afternoon, got off from the mini van from Chiang Mai at the bus terminal, got no clue where is the resort I booked in booking.com, this situation excites me but also it depends on the place, I feel safe in Thailand so, no worries. The place was full of tourists mostly Europeans and Asians, I walked aimlessly, pulling my small trolley and my backpack at the back. I decided to get lunch first so I’m fueled for my accommodation hunt. Restaurants are like mushrooms in this area, most of them offers the local food and some offers western food. I always eat the local food whenever I travel and I didn’t come this far just to have burger and french fries. I ended up in No. 9 @ Pai, and one thing I noticed……..most of the restaurants have a live kitchen!!!
I checked with the restaurant people if they know about Happy Village Resort, they gave me a map and marked the location of the resort as well as my current location. I was relieved, enjoyed my lunch, now that I have some sense of direction.
Accommodation Hunt Begins……..
After lunch I set out to follow the direction, walked through the streets of Pai, however, at the back of my mind I was wondering….if the resort is located within the town’s vicinity, how come there was a mountain and forest view from the photos posted at booking.com. I reached the residential areas and didn’t find the resort as pointed on the map, I saw a guest house specifically for Muslims, I approached them and asked for information. They were helpful and even tried calling the number (my mistake I did not buy a Thailand sim card, otherwise my life would have been easier, but it was fun getting lost!). Unfortunately, the number can not be reached. They suggested me to check the other road which I did, but no success. I was hopeless and desperate, I entered another guesthouse. The lady, her name is Aom, was very helpful and welcoming, she was surprised that I look very much Thai and yet I don’t speak the language. She called the number and Thanks God! it was picked up. They spoke in their language and when Aom hung up, she said that they will pick me up. I was so happy that I hugged her for helping me. Aom told me that Happy Village is far away from the city, 2 kilometers from the town proper. We sat in her reception area and had chat, she is the owner of the guesthouse Paiburee. She also showed me around, showed the bungalows and other facilities. As we are about to go back to the reception area, Lek, the owner of Happy Village came to pick me up. We drove to the resort which is located along Highway 1095, the same highway the mini bus took from Chiang Mai, so, if I was aware of the location, I could have taken off from the mini bus right at the front of the resort.
Arrival and Stay at Happy Village Resort…..
Arrived at the resort, it was indeed a relaxing atmosphere, greeneries around with the mountain view as a backdrop, Lek dropped me in front of my bungalow.
After I got settled, I explored the resort and feel the nature around me. The serenity was soul satisfying, spent the afternoon walking around and from time to time sat in front of the bungalow and just look around feeding my eyes on the lush greenery.
I didn’t go out anymore that night since I was not that hungry due to my late lunch and the fact that I was 2 kilometers away from the town proper , I just stayed in the room and listen to the sound of cicadas and croaks of frogs. Reminded me of my younger years, during the rainy days, the same sound I slept with in the night.
The next morning I decided to check-out, though I like the peace and quiet of the resort, my difficulty was the distance from the town, I planned to take a room in the town proper. As I went out to look for breakfast, Lek was standing at the resort’s entrance. He said that he was waiting for me the night before should I wanted to go out, he would have given me a lift. I really appreciated the way he takes care of his guests. He offered me a lift to the nearest restaurant which was around 200 meters from the resort. There are two restaurants nearby, Fine Rice Restaurant (local food) and a Chinese Yunnan Restaurant, opposite the Fine Rice Restaurant is Coffee in Love. I decided to go to Fine Rice Restaurant, since I am in Thailand, I will eat the local food………
I crossed the street to Coffee in Love for my morning coffee………
Morning coffee has never been great as this one, not because of the coffee, it’s the same coffee you get from any coffee shop, it was good, I loved it…..but it’s all about the experience while sipping the coffee. I made up my mind, I will not move to the town, I will stay in this place, I can’t leave the paradise-like place which I would see for a few days only. Breathing in the fresh air energizes my lungs and the sights of nature fills my senses….
I decided to walk back to the resort after my morning coffee and along the way, a white mini Pajero stopped in front of me….it was Lek and his girlfriend, they gave me a ride to the town proper. I went to Aya Service and rented a motorbike, and the fun begins………
I took Highway 1095, what a lovely feeling to be on a bike again, a mix of freedom and thrill that I could almost scream like a child having a wonderful fun, the sound of the wind was deafening to the ear. Due to my excitement, I forgot to take my jacket from the room, I rode with bare arms.
Love Strawberry Pai
My first stop was at Love Strawberry Pai, one would never miss this place due to it’s colorful façade. I have no idea what is it, I saw other tourists also riding the motorbikes had a stop, so I also stopped, parked the bike and entered inside. The place is like a bus stop as I have seen some benches for passengers waiting, they also have kiosk for both hot and cold beverages and ice creams as well. They have a souvenir shop and a spa in one corner. I was still full from my breakfast and my tummy has no space at the moment…..though the strawberry shake looked tempting, however I managed to control myself. I sat for some time on a bench at the terrace and just gazed at the creation of nature in front of me.
I continued my ride along Highway 1095 and few minutes after, I saw the signage for Pai Canyon, it was along the highway that made it easy to locate. I parked the bike and climbed the steps. I was so happy that it was not that high……..
The ravine was not that deep compared to other canyons I visited in other places, but of course it is still fatal if one accidentally fall. However, one could still enjoy the panoramic view from the viewpoint . It was noontime when I was there that I was not able to stay long due to the sun, but I was told by the shopkeeper down that sunset is lovely from this point. In addition, one thing that I appreciated in this place was the sound of silence, and I believe would be great if there were benches around just so sit for a while. I noticed that there was a shade with bench but not maintained, hence I never had the interest to hang around longer. I retraced back my footprints and went down to continue my bike tour.
Pai Memorial Bridge
The next stop was at the Pai Memorial Bridge which is one of the tourist attraction in Pai. According to history it was built during the world war II by the Japanese, nothing special except for the relevance of the history of the bridge.
Continued my ride then I saw below signage and turned left…………Suddenly I was a bit nervous as the road seemed to be remote, my concern is in case the motorbike fail to function for whatever reason….I told myself “stay positive, you’re having fun”……….after covering some distance, I met other bikers coming from the opposite way, then I felt fine.
Along the road are resorts and lodgings scattered in the place as well as residential houses in the area. I passed by an elephant farm, I stopped by the roadside and stole some shots. A couple of meters ahead, I met a group of elephants with tourists riding at their backs, both adults and children. I was assured that I am not in a deserted place.
Wat Phra Tat Mae Yen
Continued the ride passing by the greeneries left and right along with sound of the roaring wind which was my constant companion. I found a temple gate along the way and entered through it. The road was uphill and parked my bike in front of the cafeterias. I walked and climbed a few steps towards a small temple where a where a reclining Buddha is enshrined. Afterwards, I went at the back of this small temple and followed a footpath on the hill where a giant Buddha is seated. Stairs is currently under construction, if there is any other way going up aside from the footpath on the hill, I have no idea, or if there is any other building for a bigger temple, no clue and I did not explore the place anymore.
I didn’t go near the statue anymore as the heat is not being friendly that time, I just stayed a while from my location and watched the scenic view below.
Got to move….. I went down the hill, taking extra care for each step and holding on to some tree trunks as my legs are not strong in climbing and going down. As I get on the bike, I took the direction going back to the town proper, there are some hot springs in the area but didn’t go there anymore. I crossed the town proper and drove aimlessly to the other direction, the road on the way to Mae Hong Son. I found the Pai Airport……….
From Pai Airport, I turned and drove back towards the market, got tempted with the lychees, bought a bunch of it for THB 30/ kilo. Then I decided to go for an early dinner and went to Na’s Kitchen, had green curry which was really tasty. Went back to Pai Happy Village and did my evening rituals. My day ended fully satisfied and these are what I’ve got….burned skin and lychees indulgence!!!